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Handbag Designer: Job & Career Info

Learn what handbag designers do. Read on to find out more about the education and training required for employment. Get the details about job prospects and earning potential to see if this is the right job for you.

Career Definition for a Handbag Designer

Accessories design is a thriving sub-field of fashion design, and a career in handbag design combines design skill, creativity and fashion industry knowledge in a diverse market. Handbag designer responsibilities range from sketching designs to manufacturing products. He or she may also be called on to select and test materials or merchandising designs for retail. The diversity of handbag design specialties is another plus; designers can focus on high-fashion handbags, travel bags or camping backpacks, for example.

Education Associate's or bachelor's degree
Job Skills Business expertise, communication skill, creative, detail oriented
Median Salary (2015)* $63,670 (all fashion designers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (all fashion designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A two-year associate's or four-year bachelor's degree is useful, though not required; fashion design curricula will train aspiring handbag designers to forecast trends, work with different textiles and oversee manufacturing processes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports that there are about 320 educational institutions that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design to offer fashion design programs at a post-secondary level. Because a large percentage of handbag designer jobs are freelance or one-time contracts, business skills are also crucial, especially for those looking to start their own design firms.

Skills Required

Creativity and artistic skills are obligatory, as are business and marketing acumen. Most designers now work with computer-aided design (CAD) programs in illustrating their designs, making proficiency in these programs a prerequisite to success. In addition, general manufacturing knowledge and basic sewing skills are helpful to a career in handbag design. The most important element in applying for new handbag designer jobs is a solid portfolio, so those new to the field should focus on building a collection of work to showcase their skills.

Career Outlook

The BLS estimates there will be 3% growth in all fashion design fields from 2014 through 2024, which is slower than average. The BLS reported in May 2015 that the median salary earned by all fashion designers was $63,670, although designers new to an industry will likely not make as much until they are able to build a clientele. Opportunities are most numerous in fashion industry centers like New York and California, and many handbag designers work independently, securing contract assignments from corporate and boutique fashion retailers or starting their own design firms. In fact, the BLS reports that approximately 25% of the fashion design industry was self-employed in 2014.

Alternate Career Options

Those seeking careers in fashion design may be interested in similar occupations, including tailor and jeweler.

Tailor

Tailors alter garments for a custom fit by marking changes directly onto garments, cutting fabric, and sewing new seams, hems or making related changes; they may also sew new custom garments based on a designer's patterns or customer's requests. This career does not require a formal education. While it is possible to enroll in an apprenticeship program, most aspiring tailors complete on-the-job-training. Employment for tailors is expected to decline by 9% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The median salary for all tailors, custom sewers and dressmakers is $25,830 in 2015, per the BLS.

Jeweler

A jeweler repairs and makes original jewelry pieces. They also examine and evaluate gems. Jewelers may be self-employed or work for other jewelers, manufacturers or jewelry repair businesses. Entry into this occupation is possible through on-the-job training or through completion of a post-secondary program, up to and including a master's degree in fine arts or jewelry design. Jobs for jewelers are expected to decline 11% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, and jewelers earned median pay of $37,060 in 2015.

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